Playing “poker face” with DT Cavon Butler worked for Kentucky

Cavon Butler

By LARRY VAUGHT

Signing Toledo defensive lineman Cavon Butler Wednesday was a big plus for Kentucky because the last few weeks speculation continued that he would flip to another school.

Maybe he was considering it, or did Kentucky coach Mark Stoops help orchestrate “fake news” to take pressure off Butler.

“We really played a poker face with Cavon,” Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow said Wednesday. “He took his visit this past weekend, and coach  Stoops gave him a good strategy. I’m not going to tell you what he told him, but he was like, ‘Hey, I know these other schools are still pounding you. Let’s let you guys [the media] think all these crystal balls that he’s going to Ohio State, and he’s going to Michigan State.’

However, even Marrow admits there were still some nervous time with the speculation about a flip continuing until signing day.

“Even though I know we said it to him in there, and he was good with it, I started getting nervous. In that state, there’s pressure that you guys really don’t understand. You got teachers in that school, you’ve got coaches, you got principals that are all Big Ten people, and they’re really pressuring this kid,” Marrow said.

“I think what the kid did, he never said that because if he would have said, ‘I’m going to Kentucky Sunday.’ He would have been hit really hard for the next three days, and so he played a good poker face, but I got to say that’s why we were still texting him until midnight.

“You get nervous because that school up there (Ohio State) is pretty good at getting guys. Personally, when we got (freshman linebacker) Chris Oats, that was really a thing of saying, ‘Wow, we really battled these guys.’ We really battled these guys for Cavon Butler. I know Stoops is very excited about that.”

Stoops admitted Wednesday he was texting with Butler until about 11 p.m. Tuesday and joked with Marrow that he needed to go to bed and let Marrow take over.

“But I wasn’t going to go,” Stoops said.

That’s because defensive tackles are so hard to find, recruit and then sign. They are game-changers in the Southeastern Conference and Stoops has been able to find, sign and develop defensive line depth comparable to other SEC teams.

“D-tackles are just so important. And everybody wants the big, long, athletic guy and they’re difference-makers. In this league, that’s one of the positions that really changes (teams).” Stoops said. “That’s one of the positions that separates the top from the bottom.

“You look at the great programs and the teams traditionally in the top 10, they’ve got some defensive linemen. Obviously they’ve got a lot of other things as well but you’ve got to have some D-line.”

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